As the Sir Doug Nicholls Indigenous rounds wound up, and with the bye rounds to come, some teams will look to reset to attack the second half of the season.
The Inner Sanctum takes you through Round 11, complete from A-Z. The defining highs, lows, and controversies surrounding Round 11 of the 2022 AFL Premiership season.
A is For A Rare Couple: Richmond defender Jayden Short added a couple of goals in a rare instance. His two goals in the Tigers’ loss to the Sydney Swans marks the first time he’s had a multiple-goal game since round 2 2019.
B is For Big bag for Bud: Sydney Swans spearhead Lance Franklin kicked a bag of five goals on the Friday Night stage. His efforts in the Marn Grook game were pivotal to securing the win and netting him the Goodes-O’Loughlin medal.
C is For Captain Courageous: Jack Ziebell is known as one of the toughest and most courageous players in the competition and on Sunday afternoon against St Kilda, he celebrated game 250. The North Melbourne captain can hold his head up despite his side going down, finishing his milestone game with 10 disposals, 10 tackles and a ripping goal.
D is For Down and Dirty: Maligned and criticised for weeks for its lack of pressure on the footy, Essendon responded with a much-improved performance, beating the Power in tackles 54-50, with Jye Caldwell and Zach Merrett having 17 tackles between them. This hard edge saw the Bombers get back in the contest, and was promising to see despite the loss.
E is For Easily Forgotten: We often hear coaches saying, “we won’t go too deeply into that performance. We’ll just rule the line under it and move on.” One might imagine Sam Mitchell making that call about his Hawks’ game against the Gold Coast Suns. In reality, not much went right from when Luke Breust fluffed his lines with the first opportunity of the night to when the final siren delivered the merciful coup de grace. The much talked about training with the balls coated in water and detergent provided little in assistance – Hawthorn’s handling was abysmal all night. Their much-vaunted accuracy in front of goal deserted them to the tune of 7.12. Just a bad night at the office.
F is For Final siren controversy: Another AFL round and more controversy about umpiring decisions, this time on the final siren of the game. Chad Warner was at the centre of the controversy, kicking the ball into the crowd on the final siren after Dion Prestia had been paid a free-kick. This would normally be a fifty-metre penalty however it was deemed common sense that Warner did not hear the whistle due to crowd noise. The AFL came out and ticked off the umpire’s response to the situation that unfolded.
G is For Game-changing moments: After two straight losses, Fremantle needed to rebound in a big way against reigning premier Narrm to stay in touch with the top four. Storming home in the second half to win, it was all started by an exhilarating minute by youngster Michael Frederick in the third quarter. Frederick kicked a long-range goal on the run to put the Dockers within a point, before setting up Lachie Schultz for another major to consolidate a lead, which they never gave up.
H is For Hey, Look who’s back: Both Port Adelaide and Essendon welcomed back key forwards this week for their first games of the season this week. And while Harrison Jones hit the scoreboard with his first goal of the year, it was Charlie Dixon, with two goals, (the only player with multiple) helping Port get the spoils.
I is For Intriguing times ahead: Port Adelaide looked a mile off in the first quarter of the season, and finals were looking like a pipe dream at 0-5. Now, heading into the bye, Port has won five of its last six, and with three teams fighting for finals to come, Port’s remarkable comeback may continue.
J is For Jobs & Growth: Once the tagline of the Liberal Party pre-election mantra, now applied to the Gold Coast Suns. Jobs as in the one that the man with the Chopper moustache, Sam Collins did on the Hawthorn forward line, or Levi Casboult did to bring his smaller forwards into the play at the other end. Growth as in that shown by young starlets such as Rowell, Anderson and Rankine, and even younger ones such as Jeffrey and Rosas. Time will tell whether they’re ready to be finalists this year, but by God, they’re getting closer. The Suns are coming, and quickly.
K is For Keathy Kicking ‘Em: On a night when the Bulldogs had an equal-record breaking 16 individual goalkickers and kicked 25 in total, it was defender Alex Keath that probably laid claim to the best of the lot. This full-length effort is something to behold.
L is For Ladder Leaders slain: After 10 months undefeated, Narrm was finally toppled by Fremantle on Saturday. Picking up a 17 game winning streak, starting at Round 20 last season and including the drought-breaking grand final win, it was the equal fifth-best win streak in V/AFL history.
M is For My oh Miers: Facing criticism over his form this season, Gryan Miers proved the doubters wrong. After starting as the medi-sub last week, Miers made the most of his inclusion in the 22, collecting 20 disposals and contributing three goals.
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N is For Noble steed: That’ll do Johnny, That’ll do. Another highly influential and effective game for John Noble, who on the eve of the Mid-Season Draft reminded clubs that you can have great success drafting players in this window. Noble impressed with a 21 possession (95% efficiency) five intercepts and four tackle game against the Blues.
O is For Opportunity taken: Mitchito Owens took Jack Billings place in the St Kilda line up and the second gamer took it with both hands. The 18-year-old finished the game against the Kangaroos with 14 disposals, 10 tackles and two goals, including his first at the AFL level.
P is for Please sir, can I have a key defender? Carlton’s injuries to its key position stocks finally hit a tipping point on Sunday after Jacob Weitering was subbed out with a serious shoulder injury. With Weitering set for multiple weeks on the sidelines and with injuries to fellow key defenders Mitch McGovern, Oscar McDonald and Caleb Marchbank still not fit, expect the Blues to find a ready-made key defender in the Mid-Season Draft on Wednesday night… and for whoever they pick to take the field straight after the bye.
Q is For Quadruple Double (Nearly): There are many performances of note when a side wins by 100+, but Josh Dunkley’s stands out above the rest. Dunkley came extremely close to a quadruple-double, notching up 10 kicks, 15 handballs, 12 marks and seven tackles. Add to that two goals, and it is little wonder he was ranked among the best players on the ground in the emphatic Bulldogs victory.
R is For Reilly’s Return: An unlikely star, Reilly O’Brien provided a glimmer of hope for Adelaide after being relegated to the SANFL for the past fortnight. The ruckman collected a career-high 28 disposals and 47 hit outs, but ultimately the Crows fell to their fifth consecutive loss.
S is For Stewart the sponge: Tom Stewart had a field day, soaking up every opportunity that came his way. The Cats defender collected a career-best 40 disposals, 16 marks and even equalled this season’s record of 17 intercept possessions set by Fremantle’s Griffin Logue in round nine, as Geelong recorded their second straight win.
T is For Tsunami of Goals: Whilst the Cats-Crows game was scratching its way to two goals in the first quarter, the Lions-Giants game was the total opposite. Eight goals to the Giants and six to the Lions in the opening term made for absolutely exhilarating football. There was such a stark difference in the games, that even though they started at the same time, the Lions-Giants first quarter was still going when the Cat’s-Crows game was already into the second!
U is For Ugly Statistics: The Eagles’ form of late is verging on all-time lows in many categories. Losses of 101, 52, 74, 75, 109, 84 and 63 over the last seven weeks give them an 0-7 record and a percentage over this stretch of under 40. This has real Fitzroy areas about it, which is even more ugly given the rich history and proud effort the Eagles usually are known for.
V is For Variable Conditions: There has been media speculation in the past couple of weeks that there may be room for a Northern Territory club to make 20 when, or soon after, the Tasmanians come in. While there may be concerns that there may not be enough AFL standard players to fill 20 clubs, the evidence shown by matches played thus far in the Red Centre and the Top End suggests that a club in the Territory may provide an exciting new challenge for other sides. From the freezing Apple Isle to the hot, humid Territory and every type of climatic condition in between: to win this league you need not only to be good, but resilient at the same time.
W is For Welcome to the Schultz show: While a number of Dockers lifted to overcome the Demons, Lachie Schultz’s second half was another to add to his list of impressive forward performances in 2022. The small forward kicked four goals after halftime to power his side to an 8-3 record to stay in touch with the top two.
X is For Xesturgy: Xesturgy is the process of polishing, and with performances like his one on the weekend, Lachie Neale is well on the way to polishing a second Brownlow Medal. 39 disposals, five marks, six tackles and two goals will surely give the Lions midfielder another three votes, putting him right in the mix at the halfway point of the season.
Y is For Young Pie Backs It Up: After kicking four goals last week coming on as the medical sub against Fremantle, Oliver Henry kept his place in the Collingwood starting lineup and was once again an ever-present threat in the forward half. Henry kicked two vital last quarter goals, finishing with three for the match to take his season tally to 15 majors for the season.
Z Is For Zazzy Goals: Zazzy (flashy) goals are a trademark of Toby Greene, and against the Lions, they were on display. A quick snap from the boundary and this beauty to keep his side in the game is challenging for most, but his brilliance makes them look oh so easy. Greene finished with four goals and 15 disposals in the close-fought contest at the Gabba.
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